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Building Mile End Library: New exhibition

For almost as long as there has been higher education at Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End campus there has been a library for its students. On the ground floor of Mile End Library between the Welcome Desk and the Teaching Collection is a new exhibition on the history of your library.

Published on:
Archived photograph of the outside of the Mile End Library
Archived photograph of the outside of the Mile End Library

The library has moved at least twice in its 132-year history. Numerous extensions and refurbishments have taken place to fulfil the ever-changing needs of the university and its students. These range from changing to carpets in 1909, expanding into the basement of the Octagon in 1965, to adding two new floors in the current works. This exhibition will take you through the origins of the “Student’s Library”, the move to the new “Old Library” in the Octagon and the construction of the Mile End Library at its current home.

During the Mile End Library Transformation 2021-2023 the Archives and Special Collections team have created an exhibition that illustrate the changing nature of the library service from 1890 to the present day. It features original records from the university’s own archives that demonstrate how buildings, staff and the students experience of the university library has changed through time. 

The exhibition is free and anyone can visit through a one off visitor pass issued at the Welcome Desk, no prior application or booking required. If you are a student or staff member of Queen Mary University of London simply enter the library as usual with your ID card.

Check out the archives blog to view extra content around the theme of library history that will be published in the coming months as well as online exhibitions on many different themes. You can also book to see material like this at the Archives Reading Room or ask a question by emailing

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